Things that make you go hmmm…
France said it could not confirm a report on Saturday that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had died in Pakistan last month.
The French regional daily L’Est Republicain, published in Nancy, quoted a document from the DGSE foreign intelligence service as saying the Saudi secret services were convinced bin Laden had died of typhoid in late August.
In Paris, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie ordered a probe into the leaking of the classified DGSE document.
A senior Pakistani government official said Islamabad had not received any information from any foreign government that would corroborate the story.
The Saudi Interior Ministry was not available for comment.
“If anyone was in the picture, I doubt it would be Saudi intelligence,” said a Western diplomat in Riyadh.
“Even if Saudi Arabia had information, they’d pass it on to the United States, not France. It doesn’t ring true.”
The French newspaper printed what it said was a copy of the report, dated September 21, and said it had been passed on to Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin the same day.
“According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead,” it read.
“The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al Qaeda fell victim, while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, to a very serious case of typhoid that led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs.”
The report, which was stamped “confidential defense” and with the initials of the French secret service, said Saudi Arabia had first heard the information on September 4 and was waiting for more details before making an official announcement.
Another U.S. intelligence official, who declined to be named, said bin Laden had long been rumored to be suffering from kidney ailments and receiving dialysis:
“We have believed him to be in declining health for some time and there have been other rumors of his demise.”
He said bin Laden had “minimal operational involvement at this time” in al Qaeda.
It’s not confirmed, and who knows if or when it will be. Some might say it would explain why Dubya recently told Fred Barnes (of the Weakly Substandard) that Osama was “not a top priority”. Others might say that’s why the CIA disbanded its anti-Osama task force back in July of this year. Why bother to go after a guy who’s not much longer for this world?
Actually, though, Osama hasn’t been a priority for BushCo since…well, ever. And Dubya himself has said as much, just six months after 9-11. That’s another thing that makes you go hmmm, but the Crack White House Press Whores aren’t touching it any more today than they were then.
And don’t we all wonder why?